Minister for Law, K Shanmugam has publicly spoken about the high profile case of Parti Liyani, (Parti) the foreign domestic worker (FDW) who has been acquitted by the High Court for allegedly stealing $34,000 worth of items from her former employer, the influential Liew Mun Leong (Liew).
This controversial matter has caused public outrage in part because of the imbalance of power between Parti and her accusers and in part because of the seeming catalogue of errors made from investigation to initial prosecution. There have also been disturbing revelations about how the lower court judge sought to seemingly suppress information about Parti’s threat to complain about the Liews to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for making her work in contravention of MOM rules in court. The fact that the powerful Temasek Holdings has come out to seemingly praise Liew at this time has also no doubt incensed the public further.
While he acknowledged that “something has gone wrong in the chain of events”, Shanmugam also noted that it is good to see that justice has been served.
Yet, as of this moment, it remains a fact that Parti’s life was in limbo for a few years directly as a result of the accusations that have been brought against her by the Liews. Given that the High Court ruling has noted the probability of an improper motive on the part of the Liews in lodging a police report about Parti in the first place, questions remain as to whether or not the Liews will face justice for potentially having fabricated evidence.
The time that has been stolen from Parti is not retrievable. How will she be compensated? Until she has received due compensation for the trauma that she has endured and an official apology from the Liews, the police and the lower courts, can justice really be said to have been served?
It seems odd for the Minister of Law to imply that justice has been served when all these questions remain unanswered and outstanding.
The Minister also urged the public not to be defensive and to avoid a witch hunt, further reassuring the public that the justice system is fair and impartial to all, adding that the status and position of the parties involved in the case does not matter.
While Shanmugam’s words are heartening, there does appear to be a network of overlapping relationships between the various parties involved in this matter which could amount to potential conflicts of interests. With that in mind, can justice be said to be done in the absence of a committee of inquiry (COI) ? After all, isn’t the most objective way of being accountable to the public an independent COI?